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Fri, Apr 27, 2007

Aero-News Alert: FAA Wants Skyrocketing Costs In Pilot, Airplane Registrations

Surprise, Surprise... Airline Charges Reduced, OR Eliminated, Under Plan

That 'thud' you hear is the other shoe dropping in the FAA's proposed funding reauthorization scheme.

According to an internal Powerpoint presentation obtained by Aero-News through a VERY reputable News-Spy -- and verified as accurate by sources familiar with the issue -- higher fuel taxes and charges to use terminal airspace may not be the most egregious aspects of the agency's airline-supported (and VERY airline-friendly) proposal.

According to the document -- from a presentation given at the AVS Senior Management Conference earlier this month -- the FAA intends to sharply increase charges for such current mundanities as airmen certification and aircraft registration.

And when we say "sharply," we mean "paying through the nose... and likely other orifices, as well."

Check out these charges: currently, pilots do not have to pay a fee for an airman certificate, or a medical (you're paying the doctor for the exam for the latter.) Under the FAA's proposal, it would cost a total of $92 to obtain a private pilot license -- $50 for the airman certificate, another $42 for the medical. And that's on top of the doctor's visit. Replacement charges for the airman cert rise from the current $2, up to $25.

It gets worse if you're looking to register your own airplane. It now costs $5 to register an aircraft... and another $10 if you want a specific N number. If the FAA has its way, those costs would skyrocket to $130 and $80, respectively. The FAA helpfully notes the registration charge "is less than the price of registering a car in most states."

According to the FAA's figures, the increases will bring in an additional $52 million in user fees -- more than the projected $48 million a previously-announced, four-fold increase in fuel taxes will bring to FAA coffers.

If your stomach is turning now... you may wish to grab the Mylanta before reading why the FAA feels such costs are justified.

"It is worth it to the applicant to pay for these products in order to accomplish their aviation mission," according to the presentation, " and ensure I (sic) high degree of safety."

As for similar increases in the cost to obtain airworthiness certificates, designee appointment and renewals, type certificates and STCs, the FAA notes "[d]esginees, flight schools and repair station operators, must have these certificates to meet their business goals in a safe manner."

"The simple value of these business opportunities are worth the cost of obtaining a certificate," the FAA adds.

Just in case you were wondering how the airlines fare under the FAA's proposal... here is a list of current passenger taxes that would be eliminated under the FAA's scheme:

  • Domestic Ticket Tax
  • Frequent Flyer Tax
  • Domestic Segment Tax
  • Cargo Shipping Tax

The International arrival and departure fee would be significantly decreased under the FAA's plan, as well... from a current high of $15.10, to just $6.39.

As previously implied, the FAA also seeks to cut the Airport Improvement Program budget... from $3.2 billion to $2.75 billion, a loss the agency says will be "more than made up for" by a raising of the cap on Passenger Facilities Charges to $6.00 per flight segment.

If it appears the FAA is setting itself up for a funding windfall under these new charges, you'd be right -- except for one curious aspect. By the FAA's own admission, total costs brought in for FY2009 by the new funding scheme, if implemented, would be $11,347,000... which is LESS than the agency projects to take in for FY2008, under the current fee structure.

ANN will continue to investigate this issue, and report more details as they become available. One thing seems clear, folks... the FAA has GA in its sights... and expects private pilots to pay, and pay, and pay...

FMI: www.faa.gov

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